In a visit to Lancaster Health Center on Friday, Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine spoke about local and statewide efforts to combat COVID-19 as well as reopening concerns ahead of the 2020-21 school year.
Wolf and Levine met with administrators and clinical staff about their roles caring for the public during the COVID-19 pandemic and came following new numbers showing Pennsylvania reaching 105,571 total virus cases as of Friday morning, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
The statewide death toll from the virus now stands at 7,101.
In a brief speech, Wolf noted the recent surge in cases statewide, which went from 400 new daily cases about a month ago to current daily counts hovering around 900 to 1,200 cases.
“That is a problem,” Wolf said.
The state is working on speeding up the turnaround of testing as well as opening more testing sites, he added.
During a press conference following his remarks, Wolf was asked about the precarious reopening of schools next month.
"We need our kids to get an education," he said. "If not, that’ll be bad for all of us." But Wolf acknowledged safety concerns with the potential gathering of students in physical classrooms.
"We’re not faced with a good choice and a bad choice," he said, "we’re faced with two bad choices."
Levine said the Department of Health would be collaborating with the Department of Education and school districts "so parents feel comfortable (sending their children) to school."
She came short of any recommendation when asked whether 25 students to a classroom is safe.
In the political realm, Wolf reiterated his plans to veto a bill that would require state agencies to respond to Right-to-Know requests during public emergencies such as the current pandemic.
"I’m all about transparency but I’m all about keeping our employees safe," he said.
"If I can be assured that this can be implemented in a way that is safe for employees, then (that’s great) but we need to be able to do both — be transparent and keep our employees safe."
Watch the video below.
The first case of COVID-19 in Lancaster County was reported on March 18, when Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health confirmed they were treating a patient who tested positive for COVID-19. On March 28, Lancaster County recorded its first COVID-19 related death at Lancaster General Health.
To date, Lancaster County has seen 5,288 cases and 400 total deaths, according to the Department of Health. The death count that county coroner Dr. Diamantoni keeps has the county listed at 379 total deaths from COVID-19.
Local hospitals have been reporting fewer COVID-19 patients in recent weeks, including Lancaster General Health, who only had 12 COVID-19 patients on Wednesday, the lowest number of patients since the early days of the pandemic.
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